Rishi Sunak is facing calls to delay or cancel Boris Johnson’s resignation honors list that rewards dozens of his allies after the former prime minister was reported to police over new Partygate allegations.
Labor and the Lib Dems say Sunak should take the list of about 50 names, which are believed to be close to approval and could be published within two weeks.
Some Conservatives are also privately puzzled as to why Sunak is willing to keep the list. It is set to cause headaches for the prime minister as it will give peerages to three MPs – Nadine Dorries, Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams – and trigger potentially difficult elections.
The prospect of further honors for Johnson’s allies will become even more controversial after the Cabinet Office passed on his pandemic diaries to two police forces over concerns about potential breaches of the rules at the time. of Covid.
The documents detailing nearly a dozen events at the prime minister’s grace-and-favor mansion, Checkers, and No 10, between June 2020 and May 2021, were provided by Johnson to his government-appointed lawyers. . However, the Cabinet Office, which pays the lawyers, also received the diaries and officials decided that under the civil service code, they should refer the matter to the police.
Johnson has cut ties with government lawyers who supported him during the Covid inquiry, with allies saying he had “lost confidence” in the system.
His critics said that Sunak and Johnson should abandon plans for a resignation honors list, with a set of reports about the names submitted including party donors, aides and at one point even a proposed knighthood for his father, Stanley Johnson.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said it was impossible to maintain the list now Johnson was facing new accusations.
“With the disgraced former prime minister now facing new allegations and under several investigations, there should be no question that Rishi Sunak approved the awards for his cronies and cheerleaders.
“The prime minister must refuse to do Boris Johnson’s bidding and make it clear that he will reject these demands.
“His top priority now is tackling the cost of living crisis facing ordinary people, not handing out huge rewards for 13 years of Tory failure.”
The Liberal Democrat chief whip, Wendy Chamberlain, said: “The days of prime ministers nominating peers should be left in the past, especially if they leave under a cloud of scandal like Boris Johnson. At the very least, Rishi Sunak should step in and delay this list while Johnson is under police investigation.
Chris Bryant, the chair of the House of Commons standards committee, also said the idea of a resignation honors list was “totally inappropriate” as the former prime minister faced fresh allegations of breaching the rules. at Checkers.
Johnson is still being investigated by the House of Commons privileges committee, which is looking into whether he misled parliament by giving assurances that all Covid rules and guidelines were being followed at No 10.
A Conservative MP said it was “absurd” for the prime minister to allow Johnson to give peers to Dorries, Sharma and Adams, if it would cause so much trouble, and it would be “a nightmare” for headquarters. of the Conservative party. must spend time and money on elections.
However, some say the frenzy around Johnson has died down a bit this time because he is no longer involved. Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP and former critic of Johnson, said: “I don’t think it has gained traction because there is momentum behind Rishi Sunak as we enter a calm and measured period in British politics. after the chaos of the last two years.. It puts it into perspective. There is a bit of noise but the absolute majority of MPs are focused on getting back to what we do well and supporting the statecraft of No 10.
The party has embarked on a frenzy of fundraising in recent months, with Mohamed Mansour, a billionaire former minister in Egypt’s Mubarak government and a senior Tories treasurer, this week handed over £5m for election efforts – the biggest one-off. donation for more than 20 years. Several former Conservative treasurers have been honored, but this is likely to happen after they leave office. His spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on whether he was being lined up for a peerage, but No 10 said this was not the case.
No 10 sources previously suggested Sunak thought it was fair for Johnson to get his own list. Liz Truss, who has only been prime minister for a few weeks, is also set to get one after Johnson’s is settled.
On Wednesday, Downing Street denied Johnson was the victim of a politically motivated stitch-up, after his allies reacted with anger to news of the latest police involvement in the Partygate allegations. .
No 10 stressed that Sunak had nothing to do with the decision to hand over Johnson’s pandemic diaries, saying they “did not see the information or material in question”, adding that the ministers “did not involved in this process and only found out after the police were contacted.”
Johnson said he is currently “unrepresented” in relation to the Covid question and the process of appointing new lawyers. While Johnson is confident that taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for his new legal team, he admitted in a Covid inquiry letter published on Monday that the Cabinet Office had not yet “agreed on funding and other practical arrangements”.
However, the decision to engage his own lawyers has sparked concerns that the bill for taxpayers could be much higher. Tory MPs suggested his decision to shun support from the government’s legal department meant he would have to face a cost cap incurred by appointing a new law firm.